Thesla Palanee-Phillips, University of the Witwatersrand
The results of the two studies showing that a vaginal ring can help reduce the risk HIV infection among women is being hailed as an important HIV prevention breakthrough.
Launched four years ago, the two clinical trials, known as ASPIRE and The Ring Study, set out to determine how safe and effective the ring was in prevention of HIV infection in women. The ring, which is used for a month at a time, contains an antiretroviral drug called dapivirine that acts by blocking HIV from multiplying.
The studies enrolled close to 4500 women aged 18 to 45 in South Africa, Uganda, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Each study found that the ring helps reduce the risk of HIV infection in women. In ASPIRE, the ring reduced the risk of HIV infection by 27% overall. In The Ring Study, infections were reduced by 31% overall.
Continue reading Why a new vaginal ring could be a game-changer in HIV prevention
We are excited to publish our fifth interview in our Maternal Health Heroes Summer Series with Christy Turlington Burns, Founder of Every Mother Counts. Throughout the summer we will speak with some of the most notable maternal health advocates in the world ahead of the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference that will be held in Mexico City between October 18 – 21, 2015. Follow the conversation at #MHHSS.
Christy Turlington Burns is a mother, social entrepreneur, model, and founder of Every Mother Counts. As a result of her global advocacy work she was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2014, Glamour Magazine’s Woman of The Year in 2013, and one of Fast Company’s Most Creative Minds in 2013. Christy is a member of the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council, an advisor to the Harvard School of Public Health Board of Dean’s Advisors and on the advisory Board of New York University’s Nursing School. She holds a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies and has studied Public Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. A four-time marathon finisher, Christy resides in New York City where she lives with her husband, filmmaker Edward Burns, and their two children.
Jennifer James: We are impressed that you are helping to spread the word about maternal health and mortality in the Unites States. When did it occur to you that there is a maternal health crisis in America?
Christy Turlington Burns: Soon after experiencing a childbirth complication following the delivery of my first child, I learned that hundreds of thousands of pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths occur around the world every year. Yet, up to 98 percent of those deaths are preventable. Once I knew about these shocking statistics, I had to know why this was happening. This led me to make a documentary film, “No Woman, No Cry,” which examines the state of maternal health in four countries Tanzania, Guatemala, Bangladesh and the United States. While making the film, I learned that while 99% of these global deaths occur in developing countries, we lose three women per day in the U.S. too.
Continue reading Maternal Health Heroes: Interview With Christy Turlington Burns #MHHSS
We are happy to publish our third interview in our Maternal Health Heroes Summer Series with Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese, Founder and Executive Director of Save the Mothers. Throughout the summer we will speak with some of the most notable maternal health advocates in the world ahead of the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference that will be held in Mexico City between October 18 – 21, 2015. Follow the conversation at #MHHSS.
The morning I spoke to Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese she had just come off of a late shift delivering babies at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. Two of the expectant mothers in her care during the night were African. One expectant mother hemorrhaged directly after delivery and the other who had undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) needed it to be wholly reversed before she could deliver her baby. Dr. Chamberlain Froese was able to successfully reverse the FGM and saved both mothers’ and babies’ lives during delivery.
Just another day at the office.
Given each of the mothers’ obstetric complications if they still lived in Africa, the probability is they would not have survived their deliveries. In fact, 800 women around the world, particularly those who live in low- and middle-income countries, die every day during childbirth from largely preventable causes like postpartum hemorrhaging or obstructed labor. In Canada, both women survived and delivered healthy newborns. In Africa, that likely would not have been the case. After caring for these women, the lingering question arose again for Chamberlain Froese: Why is it that women who deliver in the West are more valuable than other mothers?
Continue reading Maternal Health Heroes: Interview With Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese #MHHSS
By our partner, The Shanti Uganda Society
On August 27th to September 4th, The Shanti Uganda Society will be hosting its fourth annual doula training in Uganda, East Africa, the country considered to be the Pearl of Africa. The program has been running since 2012 and has received much positive feedback. A previous student described her experience in 2013 as transformative, humbling and amazing.
“I left a part of my heart in Uganda after leaving all of the wonderful women and children I met there. I would love for others who too are passionate about maternal and infant health to experience what I did so that it cannot only fuel your passion for change but ignite an explosion for change.”
This idea of Shanti Uganda’s doula training being a catalyst to fuel one’s passion for global access to safe dignified birth care goes hand in hand with Shanti Uganda’s mission and core values. Since its founding in 2007, Shanti Uganda has been committed to providing holistic mother-centered care and bringing dignity back to birth in Uganda. Shanti Uganda creates positive global change through grassroots and community initiatives and connecting cultures across the globe. Participants are given a unique experience to be trained while immersed in Ugandan culture.
Continue reading Join Shanti Uganda’s 2015 Doula Training, “Birthing and Beyond”
In low- and middle-income countries women continue to die each day during and immediately after childbirth mainly due to postpartum hemorrhaging (PPH). In fact, most maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa (440 every day) are caused by PPH.
The World Health Organization’s strong recommendation to save mothers who experience PPH is to administer oxytocin, the most effective drug to stop hemorrhaging. The problem, however, is oxytocin must be kept refrigerated. Most health centers and hospitals in low resource areas lack electricity or have spotting service making the use of oxytocin improbable to impossible. Oxytocin must also be injected by a skilled health worker which causes another barrier to its universal use. For African women, who likely live great distances from their closest health center, the chances of delivering their baby with a skilled health professional are increasingly low.
Scientists in Uganda recently conducted a double-blind, randomized trial where they compared the use of oxytocin and misoprostol, an oral drug that also stops postpartum hemorrhaging. They found that misoprostol can effectively be used against PPH because it can be taken as a pill and does not need to be refrigerated. In cases where oxytocin and health workers are not available the World Health Organization has also recommended the use of misoprostol. This recommendation has stood since 2011.
Although misoprostol has been used and distributed to health centers in Uganda since 2010 the researchers acknowledge that the drug has been illegally abused because it can also be used for abortions. Researchers also admit that oxytocin is a superior drug to reduce PPH because misoprostol often causes shivering and fevers in addition to stopping hemorrhages.
While misoprostol seems to be the likely alternative to oxytocin in resource-poor settings, researchers in Australia at Monash University as well as their global partners Glaxo Smith Kline, McCall MacBain Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada and Planet Wheeler Foundation are currently collaborating on an inhaled oxytocin product that does not require refrigeration while still saving mothers’ lives.
Photo: United Nations